Georgia focused on Mathieu

semerson@macon.comDecember 1, 2011 

ATHENS -- Georgia has its eye on “Honey Badger.”

LSU star sophomore Tyrann Mathieu has made his unusual nickname quite famous thanks to his abilities. He has moved onto some Heisman ballots by returning two fumbles for touchdowns and one kick for a touchdown and ranking fifth in the nation in kickoff returns.

A video of Mathieu’s many explosive plays has also gone viral on YouTube.

“I haven’t shown it to our guys yet. But coaches, we watched the ‘Honey Badger,’ ” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “That’s him, this joker is fearless. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen on tape.”

Punter Drew Butler and special teams gunner Blake Sailors each said they still expect to kick to Mathieu, but his presence does matter.

“I don’t know if it affects strategy as much as it affects effort,” Butler said. “Guys understand the talent that he has and the ability that he has to simply take it to the house every time he touches it. So everybody’s gonna pay hopefully a little more attention and give a little more effort to make sure this guy doesn’t get a touchdown against us.”

“Everybody in the country knows how great he is,” Sailors said. “So for me as a gunner, if I go out there and make any tackles on him, then that’s going to look good for me. I’m gonna do the best I can to just go out there and make the play, if I can.”

No pro-combat unis this time

Back before the season opener, head coach Mark Richt made a promise to his Georgia players. If they got back to the Georgia Dome at the end of the year, they could wear the pro-combat uniforms for that game, too.

Even though the fans panned the Nike-designed uniforms that Georgia wore against Boise State, the players loved them.

“I thought that’d be a nice incentive,” Richt said. “As it turned out, it wasn’t much of an incentive.”

The Bulldogs have made it back to the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship. But the memory of the first game, a 35-21 loss to Boise State, is so stark that when Richt ruled out the pro-combat uniforms earlier this week, he got no complaints.

“Nobody even asked me,” Richt said. “Matter of fact, a couple of them actually were like, ‘Don’t do it coach.’”

Players are opting for superstition over fashion. Or lack of fashion, depending on your outlook.

“He actually said, I think it was Monday or Tuesday, that we’re not going to,” offensive lineman Austin Long said. “I don’t think anyone really wanted to. I think the traditional, just keep doing what we’ve been doing the last 10 weeks.”

So Georgia will be wearing red jerseys and silver britches. LSU is the home team, but it wears white at home anyway.

Richt said “one guy” asked about possibly wearing black jerseys.

“They think you can snap your finger and get a bunch of brand new jerseys,” Richt said. “That has to be planned out.”

Mum on tailbacks

Richt deflected a now-daily question about the status of the tailbacks, chiefly Isaiah Crowell and Richard Samuel.

“I don’t want to talk about tailbacks,” he said. “I was in a good mood until you asked that. No more tailback questions until after the game.”

Georgia has faced problems at the position all year. Crowell had been practicing, while Samuel had yet to practice as of Tuesday after being out four weeks.

“I don’t blame you for asking really, but I just don’t have any good answers,” Richt said.

Tyson doesn’t practice

Senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson (ankle) was held out of practice for a second straight day. But Richt is still holding out hope that Tyson can play.

“He’s got a chance. He’s still got a chance. Tomorrow we’ll see how much he’s progressed.”

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